A Warm Welcome To The ProTran RS06/H
dailysportscar.comNow here’s a very interesting news item – one combining a familiar chassis, a new (but already familiar) engine, a new name, months of preparation and hybrid work (by a couple of familiar names), and a familiar name from British GTs in the past.

Paul Cope is the man behind this project: some readers will remember that he raced his Venturis in the British GT Championship.

The Reynard 2KQ chassis (009) originally raced at Le Mans in 2000, 2001 and 2002, DNF’ing twice, but winning the LMP675 Class in 2001, driven by Jordi Gene, Jean-Denis Deletraz and Pascal Fabre. It was VW (Lehmann) powered then, but it will be back on the tracks this year, running as a hybrid, and powered by AER’s brand new V8 twin turbo engine.

“You may already know that with the Nasamax conversion, other than the carbon tub, every other panel and virtually every component was modified or redesigned,” explains Paul Cope. “In fact, even the tub had new safety features bonded onto it.”

dailysportscar.comThe same applies to the ProTran RS06/H, so with only the tub itself carried over to the new project, it more than justifies the new name.

But originally, this was going to be an LMP2 prototype, for 2006.

“The car was originally completed last August in LMP2 spec., using the AER four cylinder, 2 litre engine, with the original Gemini gearbox,” explains Paul Cope. “The car came in ‘on the weight’ at 753 kg, but I had concerns about compromises in the chassis, having regard to the strength of the 2005 LMP2 grid and particularly the Lolas and the Courages. The RS05 (as it was then) was a big car for LMP2 and was unlikely to be as aero efficient as the new generation cars, with 500bhp.”

So the plan changed, significantly, in the third quarter of 2005.

“At around that time, Mike Lancaster announced the V8 twin turbo, and that pretty much made up my mind. This meant that the back end, from the tub backwards, came off entirely. The Gemini box was unlikely to be strong or reliable enough with the increase power and torque. There was therefore really only one choice for the replacement, this being the Ricardo transverse, 6-speed sequential. I think that this was also AER's preferred option as the ‘box ties in well electronically with their paddle shift system and the fly by wire throttle controls.”

So here we have an updated Reynard tub, and effectively an all-new, LMP1 car built up around it.

“I’ve sunk a lot into this project!” admits Mr. Cope.

dailysportscar.comWith Kieron Salter’s (KWM) Reynard and Nasamax connections (the original design and the John McNeil hybrid), he was the natural choice to pen the details, while (former Harrier designer) Lester Ray (left) has “carried out huge amounts of work on the car and is now well and truly absorbed into the team. He is an extremely knowledgeable and very useful guy.

dailysportscar.com“Kieron (right) is the ACO nominated "manufacturer" for the Reynard,” continues Paul Cope, “and we could not have done the whole thing without him. He is an extremely personable bloke with both feet planted firmly on the ground. He inspires a great deal of confidence in his design work and I very much hope that we can keep him close to the team.

“We’re about a week away from shaking the car down. At the moment the car is in Lester Ray’s workshop in Ripley (Surrey), having the final details of the engine installation completed.”

ProTran Competition was formed by Paul Cope in 1999, and his team will be moving from its current Berkshire base to the Surrey area of SE England shortly.

So the transitional period of the ACO regulations has given rise to another interesting new prototype. Who was it who said that a monocoque was nothing more than a big bracket to hang everything from?

And this ‘big bracket’ (and its new components) will be powered by an engine that James Weaver referred to as “very solid, vibration-free, it revs freely, and it’s everything a driver wants.”

So who is going to drive? Paul Cope himself will, while a driver who raced against this chassis in its previous, successful, era at Le Mans is talking to the team – Kevin McGarrity. The Irishman has Nasamax experience of a similar chassis, of course.

The third driver is TBA at the moment.

“I hope we can tie something up with Kevin as he's a really good bloke as well as being bloody quick!” comments Paul Cope.

So what’s the season-long plan? The Le Mans Series, and...

“We have indeed put in an entry for Le Mans and Kieron Salter presented the entry form and dossier to the ACO technical people in January,” says Paul Cope, “to ensure that they were happy with the hybrid issues. We are otherwise, as they say, "not holding our breath" owing to the lack of international endurance experience, but who knows?”

Le Mans is firstly about getting that entry, then it’s about being prepared – then it’s all about finishing the race. The 2KQ was nothing if not robust and the ProTran redesign does nothing to detract from that reliability, so although the 24 Hours could see the first round-the-clock test of the new engine, it could also see one last Le Mans hurrah for a chassis that won its class in 2001.

And then it would make a very useful ALMS prototype in 2007….



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